Information About Syllables


Breath - Saying a syllable involves a push of breath. Have children hold one hand very close to their mouths as they slowly say (one word at a time) hap/py, smi/ling, fa/ces. They should be able to feel a puff of air as each syllable is pronounced.

Clap - Have the children clap their hands softly, once for each syllable, as they repeat the words (one at a time) hap/py, smi/ling, fa/ces.

Drop - The lower jaw drops as each syllable is pronounced. Have children hold the back of one hand under their chins as they pronounce the words (one at a time) hap/py, smi/ling, fa/ces. This appears to be the most reliable way to identify syllables.

2. SIX KINDS OF SYLLABLES (VELCRO can be a mnemonic to help them remember):

V = Vowel team syllables These are often called diphthong syllables. Two vowels appear together and have one sound or there may be a combination of vowels and consonants that produce a vowel sound. These include simple vowel teams as ai, ea, oa, and more complex combinations as oi, oy, ow, igh, eigh.

E = final silent e These syllables include the most common long vowel spellings in one-syllable words (take, made, same). The final e is silent but children enjoy thinking that e is a tricky letter who reaches around the preceding consonant to pinch the first vowel, making it shout out its name.

L = _le syllables: An -le syllable usually occurs at the end of a word and, although the e appears, there is no audible vowel sound. These syllables include -ble (ta-ble), -cle (un-cle), -dle (pad-dle), -fle (waf-fle), -gle (wig-gle), kle (an-kle), ple (ap-ple), sle (has-sle), tle (whis-tle) and -zle (siz-zle).

C = Closed syllables: A closed syllable always ends with a consonant (at, red, him, dog, hug) and the vowel represents its short sound.

R = r-controlled vowels: An r-controlled syllable has one or more vowels followed by r which gives the vowel a unique sound (Her first words turned our attention as we heard about her journey to far ports.).

O = Open syllables: An open syllable ends with a vowel which has a long sound (says its own name). An open syllable may have a single final vowel such as in be or go, or it may be part of a longer word (ta-ken, o-pen).


Syllables are composed of two parts unless they consist of a single vowel such as a in a-ble. In closed syllables these parts are sometimes referred to as onsets and rimes. The onset is a beginning consonant or consonant blend. A rime is a vowel plus an ending consonant or consonant blend. These vowel-consonant combinations form word families (b-ack, bl-ack). The rimes in open syllables consist of only a single vowel or vowel team (b-e, t-ea).


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